Skip to main content

Richard, Louis Paul Émile


(b. Rennes, France, 31 March 1795; d. Paris, France, 11 March 1849)


Richard, the son of a lieutenant colonel in the artillery, was the eldest of four children. A physical impediment resulting from an accident prevented him from pursuing a military career, and he began teaching in 1814 as maître d’Étude at the lycÉe in Douai. There he became friendly with the student A. J. H. Vincent, who became a historian of Greek Mathematics and member of the AcadÉmie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. The two friends later met again in Paris, where they held similar posts.

In 1815 Richard was appointed professor of the Sixième at the Collège de Pontivy. He became professor of special mathematics the following year. In 1820 he was called to Paris to teach elementary mathematics at the Collège Louis-le-Grand, and in 1822 he was given a chair of special mathematics, which he held until his death.

During this period virtually the only concern of secondary-school mathematics teachers in France was to prepare students for the entrance examination for the École Polytechnique. For this purpose, three classes were sufficient: preparatory, elementary, and, finally, special classes. Richard taught the latter class with extraordinary distinction. No program was imposed. Richard, rising above the routine, gave instruction in the principal modern theories, including the new geometry introduced by Poncelet. He was one of Poncelet’s most fervent supporters, and when, in 1846, a chair of higher geometry was created at the Sorbonne for Michel Chasles, Richard was one of his most diligent auditors.

Richard stayed abreast of advances in mathematics, with which he constantly enriched his courses. The exercises he propounded were zealously investigated by his students. Of the many distinguished scientists whom he trained, the most famous, Evariste Galois, attended his class in 1828–1829. His students also included Le Verrier, J. A. Serret, and especially Hermite, to whom Richard entrusted the manuscripts of Galois’s student exercises.

Richard never married.


Despite the entreaties of his friends, Richard published nothing. On his life and work, see the notice by Olry Terquem, in Nouvelles annales de mathÉmatiques, 8 (1849), 448–451.

Jean Itard

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Richard, Louis Paul Émile." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . 19 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Richard, Louis Paul Émile." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . (April 19, 2019).

"Richard, Louis Paul Émile." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Retrieved April 19, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.